International community pledges millions for Myanmar’s crisis

By Andreas von Warburg

As the situation on the ground in Myanmar is worsening, the international community is pledging million of dollars in aid to help the survivors of cyclone Nargis.

In the meantime, British officials have said that the number of dead and missing after the Burmese cyclone is expected to rise to more than 200,000. The figure, which a spokesman said was based on new United Nations estimates, is approaching the estimated 225,000 who died in the Asian tsunami of 2004.

Here is a round up of the major pledges announced since cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar on May 3:

According to Reuters, the United Nations is offering $10 million from Central Emergency Relief Fund; and “flash appeal” to raise more money from last Friday. Five-member U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination team ready in Bangkok. UNICEF assessment teams in 3 of 5 disaster areas. The UN World Food Programme has fed more than 28,000 people so far in a six-month, $70 million initiative to feed 750,000, and has $50 million earmarked for logistics and communication work.

Australia dramatically raised its offer of aid for victims of Myanmar’s cyclone disaster to 25 million Australian dollars (US$23.5 million; €15 million), according to the Associated Press. The government had announced last week that it would give A$3 million (US$2.8 million; €1.8 million).

Reuters reports that the government of Bangladesh is sending to Myanmar two planeloads of humanitarian materials and food, and a five-member military team.

Canada has also set aside C$2 million ($1.98 million) in aid for the Burmese Red Crescent Society, according to Canwest News Service.

According to Reuters, China has committed 30 million yuan ($4.3 million), on top of $500,000 cash and $500,000 worth of tents, blankets, biscuits and supplies.

The European Commission has released 2 million euros ($3 million) of fast-track humanitarian aid and up to 30 million euros is available pending better information from the ground, according to Reuters.

According to the Prague Post, the Czech government has earmarked 5 million Kč for the relief effort through organizations such as the International Red Cross, while Czech agencies including the Czech Red Cross, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and People in Need have launched their own campaigns. People in Need has so far collected 1.5 million Kč and donated half a million crowns of its own funds.

The French government said a plane with 40 tonnes of food rations and other aid arrived in Myanmar’s capital Yangon on Thursday and a navy ship was headed to Myanmar in the hope it would be allowed to enter the country, according to Reuters. France had also despatched a navy helicopter carrier loaded with 1,000 tonnes of emergency supplies — enough to provide 100,000 people with food and clean drinking water for two weeks.

Germany is committing One million euros (around $1.55 mln) to German aid organisations for shelter, drinking water, relief materials.

The Greek government is committing $300,000 financial assistance, and plane carrying aid, according to Reuters.

Britain pledged a further 12 million pounds ($23.34 million) Thursday for the Myanmar cyclone relief effort as it reiterated a call for “unfettered” access for aid agencies, according to AFP. The new pledge is in addition to five million pounds initially provided, bringing the total British aid to 17 million pounds, said International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander.

Japan will provide Myanmar with an additional 43 million yen (409,500 dollars) worth of relief goods to help victims of the devastating cyclone there, AFP reports. Japan last week said it would send a relief package worth 10 million dollars to Myanmar in addition to 570,000 dollars in assistance already pledged to provide emergency goods such as tents, blankets and electric generators.

The government of New Zealand is committing NZ$1.5 million (about $1.1 million) to aid agencies/United Nations operating in Myanmar, according to Reuters.

According to Reuters, Seul is committing $2 million in addition to an initial $100,000 in aid and material, such as tents and medicine.

The US Administration has committed – according to recent data by Reuters – a total of $3 million, on top of $250,000 immediate emergency aid. After several days delay, the US military has made eight flights into Yangon with supplies, although Myanmar is blocking US aid workers from entering the country.

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